The community has held language camps across the lake with Elders and youth. The camp focused on Cree immersion and connection to the land.
Language Working Group
FRCN has an Ochekwi Sipi working group (OSWG) which is made up of people from different areas within the community. The OSWG:
- coordinated three workshops.
- Worked on Cree signage for the community. Naming of roads have been done in Cree. The community needs to put them up. The next phase is to hang them up.
Sessions were held in the community that resulted in four videos that can be utilized in the schools by the teachers. Minowaywin is fathering information from the community to see what they want.
A workshop was held on how to do on videos.
Fisher River Cree Nation is a community in which our history, language, traditions, and culture are paramount to who we are as a people. We will protect and maintain the spirit and intent of the treaties and our inherent rights. Fisher River will be a self-sustaining progressive community with a strong and accountable government. We will provide an environment where all people are healthy, safe, and respected.
The community developed 2 dictionaries- one from before and a recent, and a pocketbook.
FRCN has utilized the BYKI program which is an online language resource used for learning Cree. In Manitoba, 2 Cree communities have completed it- Opaskwayak Cree Nation and FRCN. The program:
- Features 134 list of words, phrases and games.
- Was made by local Elders in FRCN.
- Is continuously being updated.
- Used by teachers.
- Has the ability to add different Elders on it.
The community has created a declaration regarding language revitalization. It is currently being translated into Cree.
Within the school system, they have started a process of elimination working with children. At first it Were basic words like yes (ahey) and no (motts), then see you. They need to have a designated person to do this. They have started to add more words to this process.
Within the school system, documents were completed for grades 1-3. These documents are yearly programs that teachers can utilize to implement an introductory Cree program. Videos and the BYKI program are used as supports for the documents.
What are you community’s top 5 priorities at the moment?
- To have Elders in the school all day.
- To expand learning Cree so that people can learn the root word. Sometimes only the word is taught and not the meaning behind it.
- Need for focus on younger years. (and to include young parents)
- The Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre is facilitating a session to look at the overall comprehensive community plan that will incorporate community, school, etc.
- Have classes for community members.
What are some of the gaps that you are facing while implementing your language program?
- Not enough teachers and developers.
- Fluent speakers are not ready to speak in public, sometimes confidence can play a role.
- There is nothing in the daycare or aimed at the very younger years.
- The information from a Cree Teachings Gathering has been put together, it is not copyrighted however the group is questioning if this should be done or not. It important to acknowledge where it comes from, this needs to be done.
- The community has fluent speakers but when asked to hold classes they ask for compensation for their time
- Not enough time allotted to languages- how much time is needed in the classroom setting to retain the language?
- Members are shy in speaking the language or afraid to say something wrong.
- The written part can sometimes be a challenge as the Elders might do it differently.
- Some people expect to have incentive if they are to help or to learn the language.
- Community members are not aware of the language declaration and need to be made aware of this.
- Participation can be a challenge at times.
- The community used to celebrate life, but it is not done anymore. Language is a part of this.
- Project based funding ends when fiscal year ends so sometimes there is no continuation of what is being taught.
- To have young people and young parents involved with learning the language.
- Challenge within the school’s system is how to utilize Elders if they are in the classroom. The Elders want to know what to do and the teachers need to know how to utilize them.
- There is an issue for funding for signs on the road. It costs money.
- Some of the Elders or fluent speakers might only know the word but not know the deeper meaning behind it.
What are some resources- solutions that you would need to bridge that gap?
- Some things that are needed:
- More teachers.
- More developers.
- To recognize Elders and fluent speakers.
- Have Elders in the school (they can use everyday language).
- To explain language and the deeper meaning for each word.
- Teach it the proper way.
The community can conduct a survey to see how many fluent speakers there are. There is probably a dozen who are in their 60-80s age group, but exact numbers are not known.
Videos need to be age graded. These videos look at rites of passages, placenta, grieving and hair. The young years will be different from the older years.
Some things that need to be identified include:
- A train the trainer to build capacity in the school.
- A list of people to come in to assist with language revitalization.
- With teachers, there should be meeting to help guide them to learn the language. This meeting can be held in the evening.
- The community can develop their own curriculum, MFNERC can assist with this.
- Language teachers need a lot of support as it can be challenging on different levels including mentally.
- Would like to have a plan for phrase of the day for each entity to take part. This started at the school but has not caught on yet with the entities.
- Within meetings for each entity, we should encourage language use. This is what we did in language and learn.
- Similar to NCI jam, should have someone speak or say phrase in Cree.
- The community has a radio, but it is under utilized, it can be used to teach the Cree language.
- Should have programs in Cree and in different centres.
- With the naming of roads done in Cree, stop signs should be included.
- Language learning at home is a must and needs to be focused on.
- With budgets, entities can pool resources to hire a language teacher.
- The language aspect can be a part of job readiness, can utilize participants for language engagement.
- Can have job placements focusing on language.
- Need to find some incentives for people.
- It would be a great opportunity to visit another territory to see what they are doing.
- For example, seek out good resources like the Mohawk school, their program, their info.
- Sometimes the community might have to bring in outside people to assist with this and that is okay.
- Can have someone come teach Cree speakers.
Focus on babies, toddlers and pre-school:
- Would like to plan with daycare.
- Need to go to early childhood before daycare and school.
- Get young people involved with learning the language.
- People need to bring young kids around.
- There is a need shift the concept of learning culture, language, etc. as it is all encompassing and should be known as “our way of life”.
- People need to be made aware of why language is important.
- If participants are given more ownership, they might want to take part more. If participants are involved from the start, they would likely be prouder of it.
- Language learning needs to be interactive.
- There needs to be a different approach than school with different themes.
- There can be an emphasis on language base with identity.
- It takes a whole community to raise a child. It also takes a community for language ideas.
- For resources, need to make posters, etc. Basics can be focused on so that people can do their own things.